After Kashmiri journalist Fahad Shah tweeted about the attack, Whitefield DCP stated that tweeting about the incident was illegal and may instigate people.

Bluru cop calls journos tweet on Kashmiri student attack illegal faces criticismTwitter
news Controversy Monday, March 25, 2019 - 16:31

Is it illegal to post updates about an ongoing criminal investigation on social media? Deputy Commissioner of Police of Bengaluru’s Whitefield Division has been facing flak on Twitter after telling a journalist that he will be summoned to the police station for tweeting about the attack on a Kashmiri student which took place a few days ago.

On March 20, 24-year-old Kashmiri student Asad Zahood Dhar was attacked by a group of four men who beat him with rods and one of them also had a knife. Fahad Shah, the editor of the magazine ‘The Kashmir Walla’ had posted a picture of Absar Zahoor Dhar, who was thrashed by four men on March 20, with a quote from him, that said, “They could have killed me... I’m living in fear, not attending college as the assailants roam free in front of my house as if nothing happened.”

Dhar, the Kashmiri student, told TNM that though four people were initially arrested, they were let out on bail. Dhar also stated that he does not think he was attacked solely because he is a Kashmiri.

On March 24, Whitefield DCP Abdul Ahad replied to Fahad’s tweet, saying, “Mr Fahad Shah, you are discussing a subject of investigation in public domain which is an offence. Four culprits have been arrested and 107 CrPC proceedings are on. You are warned against this illegal behaviour.”

Under Section 107 of the CrPC, if a Magistrate receives information that a person is likely to commit a breach of peace or disturb public tranquillity, a Magistrate can send a show cause notice to the person asking him why he should not be ordered to submit a bond (with or without sureties) for keeping the peace for a certain period.

Fahad Shah responded to the DCP stating that what he had tweeted was in public domain and was already published in newspapers.

DCP Abdul Ahad stated on Twitter that the journalist would be asked to speak to an investigating officer and ensure that he is not “instigating people.”

The DCP’s response to the journalist has drawn criticism on social media. Several journalists and public figures pointed out that it was not illegal to post updates of an ongoing investigation.

“Remember you are bound by Constitution of India, let me refresh your memory, Freedom of Expression is still a Fundamental Right which NO DCP can take it from any Indian,” AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi stated in a tweet to the DCP.

As per law, it is not against the rules for a journalist to report on an ongoing investigation. According to the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, fair and accurate report of a judicial proceeding (or any stage thereof) is not contempt.

However, though Asad has stated that he was not attacked because he was a Kashmiri, it seems that the DCP was hinting that the news of his attack may instigate people. Shortly after the Pulwama terror attack which killed 40 CRPF jawans, there were reports of Kashmiri people in various parts of the country being abused and in some cases, assaulted.

With inputs from Soumya Chatterjee

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